Fergus and I went to Cafe Fleuri at The Langham in Boston, where we spent $42 per person to eat at the “Chocolate Bar.” Plus tax and tip, the entire trip was over $100. It was a really interesting experience that we don’t regret (even though we probably won’t do that ever again). This post explains the insanity.
Let me give you some background, gentle reader. Before we were serious about pursuing financial freedom, we wouldn’t have thought to go to an extravagant and expensive all-you-can-eat chocolate bar. We ate out, yes, but mostly only for convenience, when it was “cheap.” A few lunches out a week a piece, with 1-2 dinners, however, could easily surpass $84 a week ($336/month). Even just lunch out every day would put you at $120/person/month at a fairly conservative $6/lunch.
When we really started setting goals and tracking expenses, we were shocked at how much we were spending on restaurants without getting any real enjoyment. “For $100/mo we could go to that really nice place we went on our anniversary…EVERY MONTH.” And so we did. Not to the same restaurant, but to a new restaurant every month. It has become something to look forward to, and something to plan carefully. If we only have one meal out a month, it sure as hell isn’t going to be the mediocre pizza place down the street. We don’t order wine (and usually don’t order drinks at all), which makes it very easy to find some excellent quality food at that price point.
So back to the Chocolate Bar. Here are a few plates, fully loaded.
The funny thing about all-you-can-eat chocolate is how quickly you lose interest. Initially, there’s a Wonka-like thrill. All chocolate! All the dessert! We must try each dish! Soon the sampling is done out of a sense of duty. “Well, it is all-you-can-eat, and I can technically eat more…” After the first plate, it was hard to stay excited. In a way, eating at the Chocolate Bar helped us reaffirm our stance on Financial Freedom in general and restaurants in particular: There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
So how is this frugal?
Well, it’s not cheap, I’ll give you that. But our journey to financial freedom is not about hoarding money and spending as little as possible. What it comes down to is maximizing happiness – mindful consumption of entertaining experiences. The FFF family really enjoys culinary adventures, so we prioritize. In doing so, we spend less than we did before pseudo-budgeting (more on this term in a future post), while gaining huge amounts of enjoyment. These excursions even pay dividends; in years to come, we can look back and fondly remember that time we went to an all-you-can-eat chocolate bar and ended up eating more popcorn than chocolate.
So, yes, we spend 25% of our food budget in a single day just about every month. And that’s frugal.